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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis digitizes materials with BLC

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: News

Brandeis, as a member of the Boston Library Consortium (BLC), has agreed to partner with Open Content Alliance to digitize public domain materials and make them available on the Internet.

Knowledge should be open and free, stated Assistant Director for Resource Sharing Evan Simpson, who acts as project leader in Library and Technology Services effort to digitize public domain materials.

Director for Information Resources Amira Aaron explained that BLC signed on with Open Content Alliance, a non-profit and for-profit conglomeration, in order to provide greater open access for scholars and the general public. Simpson observed that companies like Google have invested interest and may limit discovery of information.

Materials will be sent to the Boston Public Library, a member of the BLC and the Scanning Center for this project, to be scanned at a cost of 10 per page and stored in the Internet Archive, which was officially recognized in May 2007 as a library. Along with public domain materials, which were copyrighted prior to 1923, the Internet Archive features a Wayback Machine, allowing users to browse through 85 billion web pages and see previous versions of websites beginning from 1996.

Currently, Library and Technology Services (LTS) is in the process of deciding what to digitize. We would like to digitize works that are unique to Brandeis and share them with scholars around the world, said Aaron.

Works that are being considered are the 1,000 books in the Alfred Dreyfus Trial collection and the 4,000 books in the McKew-Parr collection on Magellan and the Age of Discovery. The books in the Dreyfus collection are comprised of 19th century accounts and later works of the Dreyfus Affair, in which a French artillery officer, Alfred Dreyfus, was wrongly convicted of treason in 1894 due to prevalent anti-Semitism. The McKew-Parr collection, donated to Brandeis in 1961, consists of accounts of European exploration and colonization, primarily in Spanish and Portugese, from the 15th through the early 20th centuries.

Besides materials that can only be found at Brandeis, LTS, according to Aaron, is considering digitizing as a way of preserving the materials that are falling apart on the shelves and are not worth repairing. Simpson clarified, This does not mean that we are throwing out the originals. The digital copy is not a replacement for the print.

LTS expects that scanned works should be available online in early 2008 and as this is an open-ended project, materials will be continued to be added after that date. In the future LTS hopes to receive donor funds or grants in order to pursue other digitization projects. We have a number of Brandeis University photographs, some of Eleanor Roosevelt, that are just sitting in a drawer, which we would love to get digitized, stated Aaron.